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FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION

16 CFR Part 423

Trade Regulation Rule on Care Labeling of Textile Wearing Apparel and Certain Piece Goods

AGENCY: Federal Trade Commission.
ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking.
SUMMARY: Based on comments received in response to its Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking ("ANPR"), the Federal Trade Commission proposes to amend its trade regulation rule on Care Labeling of Textile Wearing Apparel and Certain Piece Goods as Amended ("Rule") to: Allow garment manufacturers and marketers to include instructions for professional wetcleaning on labels; permit the use of ASTM Standard D5489-07, "Standard Guide for Care Symbols for Care Instructions on Textile Products," or ISO 3758:2005(E), "Textiles--Care labelling code using symbols," in lieu of terms; clarify what can constitute a reasonable basis for care instructions; and update the definition of "dryclean." In addition, the Commission seeks comment on several other issues.
DATES: Written comments must be received on or before November 16, 2012. Parties interested in an opportunity to present views orally should submit a request to do so as explained below, and such requests must be received on or before November 16, 2012.
ADDRESSES: Interested parties may file a comment online or on paper by following the instructions in the Request for Comment part of theSUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATIONsection below. Write "Care Labeling Rule, 16 CFR Part 423, Project No. R511915" on your comment, and file your comment online athttps://ftcpublic.commentworks.com/ftc/carelabelingnprmby following the instructions on the Web-based form. If you prefer to file your comment on paper, mail or deliver your comment to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Room H-113 (Annex B), 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20580.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Robert M. Frisby, Attorney, Federal Trade Commission, Division of Enforcement, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20580, (202) 326-2098.
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

The Commission finds that using expedited procedures in this rulemaking will serve the public interest. Specifically, they support the Commission's goals of clarifying and updating existing regulations without undue expenditure of resources, while ensuring that the public has an opportunity to submit data, views, and arguments on whether the Commission should amend the Rule. Because written comments should adequately present the views of all interested parties, the Commission is not scheduling a public hearing or workshop. However, if any person would like to present views orally, he or she should follow the procedures set forth in theDATES,ADDRESSES, andSUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATIONsections of this document. Pursuant to 16 CFR 1.20, the Commission will use the procedures set forth in this document, including: (1) Publishing this Notice of ProposedRulemaking (“NPRM”); (2) soliciting written comments on the Commission's proposals to amend the Rule; (3) holding an informal hearing (such as a workshop) if requested by interested parties; (4) obtaining a final recommendation from staff; and (5) announcing final Commission action in a document published in theFederal Register. Any motions or petitions in connection with this proceeding must be filed with the Secretary of the Commission.

I. Introduction

The Rule makes it an unfair or deceptive act or practice for manufacturers and importers of textile wearing apparel and certain piece goods to sell these items without attaching labels stating the care needed for the ordinary use of the product.1 The Rule also requires that the manufacturer or importer possess, prior to sale, a reasonable basis for care instructions2 and allows the use of approved care symbols in lieu of words to disclose those instructions.3

116 CFR 423.5 and 423.6(a) and (b).

216 CFR 423.6(c).

3The Rule provides that the symbol system developed by ASTM International, formerly the American Society for Testing and Materials, and designated as ASTM Standard D5489-96c “Guide to Care Symbols for Care Instructions on Consumer Textile Products” may be used on care labels or care instructions in lieu of terms so long as the symbols fulfill the requirements of Part 423. 16 CFR 423.8(g).

The Commission promulgated the Rule in 1971 and has amended it three times since.4 In 1983, the Commission clarified its requirements regarding the disclosure of washing and drycleaning information.5 In 1997, the Commission adopted a conditional exemption to allow the use of symbols in lieu of words.6 In 2000, the Commission amended the Rule to clarify what constitutes a reasonable basis for care instructions and to change the Rule's definitions of “cold,” “warm,” and “hot” water.7

4 Federal Trade Commission: Care Labeling of Textile Wearing Apparel: Promulgation of Trade Rule and Statement of Basis and Purpose,36 FR 23883 (Dec. 16, 1971).

5 Federal Trade Commission: Amendment to Trade Regulation Rule Concerning Care Labeling of Textile Wearing Apparel and Certain Piece Goods,48 FR 22733 (May 20, 1983).

6 Federal Trade Commission: Concerning Trade Regulation Rule on Care Labeling of Textile Wearing Apparel and Certain Piece Goods; Conditional Exemption from Terminology Section of the Care Labeling Rule,62 FR 5724 (Feb. 6, 1997).

7 Federal Trade Commission: Trade Regulation Rule on Care Labeling of Textile Wearing Apparel and Certain Piece Goods, Final Amended Rule,65 FR 47261 (Aug. 2, 2000).

In 2000, the Commission rejected two proposed amendments. First, the Commission did not require labels with instructions for home washing on items that one can safely wash at home, because the evidence was not sufficiently compelling to justify this change and the benefits of the proposed change were highly uncertain.8 Second, the Commission did not establish a definition for “professional wetcleaning” or permit manufacturers to label a garment with a “Professionally Wetclean” instruction.9 The Commission stated that it was premature to allow such an instruction before the development of a suitable definition and an appropriate test method10 and added that it would consider such an instruction if a more specific definition and/or test procedure were developed.11

8 Id.at 47269.

9The Commission proposed a definition of professional wetcleaning, stating, in part, that it is “a system of cleaning by means of equipment consisting of a computer-controlled washer and dryer, wet cleaning software, and biodegradable chemicals specifically formulated to safely wet clean wool, silk, rayon, and other natural and man-made fibers.”Id.at 47271 n. 99.

10 Id.at 47272. The Commission explained that the definition must either describe all important variables in the process, so that manufacturers can determine that the process would not damage the garment, or be coupled with a specific test procedure that manufacturers can use to establish a reasonable basis for the instruction.Id.

11 Id.at 47273.

As part of its ongoing regulatory review program, the Commission published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“ANPR”) in July 2011 seeking comment on the economic impact of, and the continuing need for, the Rule; the benefits of the Rule to consumers; and the burdens the Rule places on businesses.12 The ANPR also sought comment on whether and how the Rule should address professional wetcleaning and updated industry standards regarding the use of care symbols, as well as whether the Commission should address non-English disclosures.

12 Federal Trade Commission: Trade Regulation Rule on Care Labeling of Textile Wearing Apparel and Certain Piece Goods, Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking; request for comment,76 FR 41148 (July 13, 2011).

This NPRM summarizes the comments received by the Commission, explains the Commission's decision to retain the Rule, proposes several amendments to the Rule, and explains why the Commission has declined to propose certain amendments.13 It also poses questions soliciting additional comment and provides a regulatory analysis as well as analyses under the Regulatory Flexibility Act and the Paperwork Reduction Act. Finally, the NPRM sets forth the Commission's proposed Rule language.

13The Commission publishes this NPRM pursuant to Section 18 of the Federal Trade Commission Act (“FTC Act”), 15 U.S.C. 57aet seq.,the provisions of Part 1, Subpart B of the Commission's Rules of Practice, 16 CFR 1.7, and 5 U.S.C. 551et seq.This authority permits the Commission to promulgate, modify, and repeal trade regulation rules that define with specificity acts or practices that are unfair or deceptive in or affecting commerce within the meaning of Section 5(a)(1) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. 45(a)(1).

II. Summary of Comments

The Commission received 120 comments in response to the ANPR.14 Most were filed by individuals. At least 70 of these individuals identified themselves as owning or operating a cleaning business or working in the drycleaning or wetcleaning industries. The Commission also received comments from government agencies,15 industry standard-setting organizations,16 environmental advocacy organizations,17 manufacturers and retailers,18 and trade associations representing industries affected by the Rule.19

14The comments are posted athttp://www.ftc.gov/os/comments/carelabelinganpr/index.shtm.The Commission has assigned each comment a number appearing after the name of the commenter and the date of submission. This notice cites comments using the last name of the individual submitter or the name of the organization, followed by the number assigned by the Commission.

15Three California agencies filed comments: The Air Resources Board (18), Department of Toxic Substances Control (123), and the San Francisco Department of the Environment (89).

16ASTM International (“ASTM”) (111) and GINETEX (83), which is responsible for the care labeling system used in European countries.

17The Coalition for Clean Air (119), the Toxic Use Reduction Institute (86), and the UCLA Sustainable Technology & Policy Program (84).

18Miele (108), Miele & Cie. KG (110), The Children's Place (90), and The Clorox Company (122).

19The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (“AHAM”) (114), American Apparel & Footwear Association (113), Professional Wet Cleaners Association (“PWA”) (73) and (102), Association of Wedding Gown Specialists (“AWGS”) (22), National Cleaners Association and Drycleaning & Laundry Institute (124), Professional Leather Cleaners Association (“PLCA”) (109), International Drycleaners Congress (“IDC”) (47), and Textile Industry Affairs (112).

All but two of the numerous comments that addressed retention of the Rule favored it.20 Comments fromthe apparel manufacturing and cleaning industries uniformly supported the Rule. For example, the American Apparel & Footwear Association (“AAFA”) stated that the labels benefit consumers, manufacturers, and business in general, as they allow for the necessary flow of information along the commodity chain. Similarly, the National Cleaners Association (“NCA”) and the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute (“DLI”) stated that the Rule provides valuable guidance on care to consumers and industry. Textile Industry Affairs (“TIA”) noted that the Rule has generated dramatic benefits to both consumers and manufacturers, and that no apparel manufacturers that have complied with the Rule have ever reported any negative consumer impact.

20GINETEX argued that the Rule should not be mandatory for textile and apparel companies because a voluntary scheme would adapt in a timely manner to technical and environmental developments as well as innovations, while adjustments to mandatory rules are very cumbersome to implement. It also argued that national rules not in line with international standards can create a nontariff barrier to trade, and that the ASTM standard creates an unnecessary obstacle to international trade. A retailer argued that the time and effort spent on labels required by the Rule does not really serve the ultimate goal of educating consumers on laundering habits. Kambam (4).

While the comments indicate widespread support for the Rule, most argued that the Commission should update or expand it in various ways. In particular, many comments urged the Commission to address professional wetcleaning by either requiring or allowing manufacturers to disclose a wetcleaning instruction. Still others urged the Commission to update the Rule's provisions allowing the use of care symbols by incorporating the latest ASTM or International Organization for Standardization (“ISO”) care symbol standards, allowing manufacturers to follow either standard, or adopting new symbols for professional cleaning. Several comments requested clarification of the Rule's reasonable basis provisions or imposition of testing requirements on manufacturers. Others advocated updating the definition of “dryclean” and the Appendix to reflect the development of new solvents and cleaning technologies and practices. Some comments urged the Commission to require manufacturers to disclose all appropriate methods of care on labels. Further, some comments urged the Commission to amend the Rule to require the disclosure of additional information such as fiber content or more detailed care instructions, to disallow certain instructions currently permitted by the Rule, or to impose additional obligations. Several comments addressed disclosures made in multiple languages.

A. Professional Wetcleaning

Slightly more than half of the 120 comments received by the Commission stated or implied that the Commission should permit, or require, a professional wetcleaning instruction on garments that can be wetcleaned. Wetcleaning is an alternative to drycleaning and involves professionals cleaning products in water using special technology (cleaning, rinsing, and spinning), detergents, and additives to minimize adverse effects, followed by appropriate drying and restorative finishing procedures. Of the comments addressing this issue, only three expressed concerns.21 Comments favoring a wetcleaning instruction made several arguments in support of their position.

21AHAM urged the Commission to gather data on consumer knowledge and the availability of wetcleaning before amending the Rule to address it. AHAM (114). One commenter stated that wetcleaning is not a viable alternative to drycleaning. Enderlin (63). PLCA did not take a position on wetcleaning, but noted that there are not enough cleaners trained in wetcleaning. PLCA (109).

First, they touted the economic, health, and environmental benefits of wetcleaning. For example, based on its analysis of scientific literature on the health and environmental impacts of drycleaning solvents, and its review of operational costs and compliance-related impacts, the San Francisco Department of the Environment determined that professional wetcleaning is the most environmentally-preferable professional cleaning option.22 The Toxic Use Reduction Institute stated that the benefits from professional wetcleaning include decreased use of energy and water, significant air quality improvement in the shop, and improved employee health and satisfaction.23 It explained that over 80% of the U.S. professional garment cleaning industry uses perchloroethylene (“perc”), and that studies have identified ecological and human health hazards associated with its use.24 It added that the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has recommended handling perc as a human carcinogen, and the Environmental Protection Agency has classified it as a probable human carcinogen.25 Two comments noted that, starting in 2023, California drycleaners can no longer use perc.26 A number of others favored wetcleaning due to concerns about using toxic or unhealthy drycleaning solvents.27 Others noted that wetcleaning can produce better results than drycleaning in some circumstances.28

22San Francisco Department of the Environment (89). This comment included a chart showing the results of its analysis.

23Toxic Use Reduction Institute (86).

24 Id.

25 Id.The California Department of Toxic Substances Control also explained the environmental problems caused by perc. (123).

26Air Resources Board (18) and NCA and DLI (24).

27 E.g.,Addison (81); Bohnet (80); Chung (70); and Xu (101).

28One comment explained that the absence of wetcleaning labels limits cleaners in offering the best process when it comes to cleaning performance (e.g.,water-soluble stains) or fabric-related cleaning processes (e.g.,polyurethane). Miele & Cie. KG (110). A comment from a cleaner noted that some stains can be removed only with water. Kaplan (57). Another comment stated that wetcleaning is a necessary method for certain combinations of soil and fabric. Riggs (53).

Second, several comments explained that the number of cleaners providing professional wetcleaning has increased and that consumers increasingly use or prefer it. Two trade associations reported that professional wetcleaning is now widespread in the industry.29 Another stated that wetcleaning has been steadily growing in the United States for over a decade.30 Yet another explained that professional wetcleaning has come a long way in the last few years, and that many traditionally drycleaned garments can be wetcleaned with good results.31

29NCA and DLI (124).

30Press on Cleaners (120).

31Patterson (14).

Several comments provided data on the number of cleaners providing wetcleaning and the number of garments they clean. For example, one comment stated that over 200 perc drycleaners in California have switched to wetcleaning and successfully cleaned the full range of garments they previously drycleaned.32 Two comments noted the success of well over 120 professional wetcleaners in California who clean over 75 million garment pieces annually.33 Another explained that there are hundreds of professional wetcleaners in the United States who use only water and soap to clean all garments presented to them.34 This comment also indicated that there are 80 Miele professional wetcleaners in California, and that they process four million articles of clothing a year.35

32Coalition for Clean Air (119).

33Chang and PWA (73) and Sim (116). Another comment stated that there are over 120 professional wetcleaners in California that clean over 250,000 pieces of garments across the state daily. Press on Cleaners (120).

34Miele (108).

35 Id.

Other comments cited the experience of individual cleaners that increasingly replace drycleaning with wetcleaning. For example, one comment from a cleaning business stated that wetcleaning is becoming common, and that it wetcleans approximately 65%-80% of the clothes it washes.36 Another commenter stated that it wetcleans 100% of garments and that the instruction “dryclean only” has lost its meaning.37

36Peltier (43).

37Behzadi (69).

Several comments noted the development of industry standard caresymbols for wetcleaning. Indeed, ASTM and ISO have adopted consistent care symbols for professional wetcleaning.38 ISO has also issued a standard on testing garments to determine whether they can be wetcleaned.39

38UCLA Sustainable Technology & Policy Program (84); Toxic Use Reduction Institute (86); and Riggs (53).SeeASTM D5489-07, “Standard Guide for Care Symbols for Care Instructions on Textile Products,” and ISO 3758:2005(E), “Textiles—Care labelling code using symbols.”

39UCLA Sustainable Technology & Policy Program (84); Toxic Use Reduction Institute (86); and Riggs (53). ISO 3175-4:2003, “Textiles—Professional care, drycleaning and wetcleaning of fabrics and garments—Part 4: Procedure for testing performance when cleaning and finishing using simulated wetcleaning.”

Finally, several comments argued that the Rule's failure to address wetcleaning places professional wetcleaners and equipment vendors at a competitive disadvantage and discourages greater use of wetcleaning.40

40 E.g.,Miele (108) and San Francisco Department of the Environment (89). Another comment argued that labeling garments “Dry Clean” or “Dry Clean Only” even though they can be successfully wetcleaned is unfair to professional wetcleaners. If a consumer prefers to dryclean such garments, the wetcleaner faces the prospect of losing the business or deceiving the consumer by wetcleaning instead of drycleaning such garments. The dilemma of either lying to the customer or potentially losing business makes professional wetcleaning unappealing to many drycleaners. PWA (102).

The comments urging the Commission to amend the Rule to address wetcleaning differ on whether the Commission should require a wetcleaning instruction or merely permit one. Moreover, many urge the Commission to address wetcleaning without specifying exactly how. Of those comments taking a position, the vast majority favored amending the Rule to require a professional wetcleaning instruction if the garment can be wetcleaned.41 Comments argued that requiring the instruction would provide consumers and cleaners with more and better options, and produce various benefits as more consumers choose wetcleaning.42 One comment expressed concern that failing to require an instruction might result in most manufacturers choosing not to disclose that wetcleaning is a viable option, thereby deceiving customers and treating wetcleaners unfairly.43

41 E.g.,Anonymous (106); Bromagen (91); Draper (100); Eldridge (46); Evans (67); Fox (107); Hagearty (61); NCA and DLI (124); Overmoe (66); Preece (54); Raggi (30); San Francisco Department of the Environment (89); Tebbs (47); Toxic Use Reduction Institute (86); UCLA Sustainable Technology & Policy Program (84).

42 E.g.,NCA and DLI (124) and San Francisco Department of the Environment (89).

43UCLA Sustainable Technology & Policy Program (84).

In addition, several commenters that do not appear to manufacture or market apparel argued that the benefits of requiring a wetcleaning instruction would exceed the added labeling and testing costs to manufacturers. One comment explained that the vast majority of manufacturers use experience and expertise to determine the care label.44 It added that, because experience and expertise are free or virtually free, the economic impact of requiring a wetclean label likely isde minimus. 45 It further explained that most manufacturers test garments by sending them to established cleaners and use in-house staff to evaluate results and that this method requires no capital equipment cost and only a marginal cost.46 DLI and NCA advised that they currently provide care label guidance to garment manufacturers and that the average cost to provide appropriate and comprehensive washing, drycleaning and wetcleaning instructions would be under $1,400.47 Another comment noted that testing is not that expensive and would not lead to a large increase in the cost of an item and that any extra costs would fall as universal testing reduces testing costs per item.48

44 Id.

45 Id.

46 Id.

47NCA and DLI (124).

48Riggs (53).

A smaller number of comments indicated that they favored amending the Rule to permit, but not require, a wetcleaning instruction. One comment argued that allowing the instruction on labeling will reconfirm to the public that this method is accepted and safe and encourage manufacturers to produce more garments that do not need to be cleaned in a solvent.49 Another supported permitting a wetcleaning instruction by amending the symbol sets to include wetcleaning because there appears to be expert consensus that clear testing protocols exist to verify its safety, and stated that the consumer and environmental benefits of wetcleaning are worthy of consideration.50

49Huie (71).

50Textile Industry Affairs (112).

Many comments simply urged the Commission to address wetcleaning without specifying how.51 For example, one comment stated that the Commission seriously should consider adding wetcleaning because of its consumer and environmental benefits.52 It also explained that, with the development of ISO standards, there now appear to be consensus testing protocols to verify a safe care process.53

51 E.g.,Air Resources Board (18); Bosshard (13); Chang (88); Santana (12); and Schoeplein (27).

52The Clorox Company (122).

53 Id.

B. Use of Care Symbols

With a few exceptions, the comments addressing the use of symbols to provide care instructions favored their continued use.54 One comment stated that the current FTC-approved symbols do a good job of covering most of the home and professional care needs in the United States.55 It therefore did not advocate modifying any of the symbols, as consumers are just now becoming familiar with them.56 Several comments, however, advocated modifying the Rule to refer to the most recent version of the “Standard Guide for Care Symbols for Care Instructions on Textile Products,” ASTM D5489, instead of the older version of the ASTM standard currently referenced.57 One comment urged the Commission to exclude the standard's date; it explained that ASTM D5489-07 is the most recent standard and that, by not designating the year, the Commission can ensure that the most recent standard is used.58 It added that D 5489-07 is an international standard as defined by the WTO TBT Agreement, and that, as a signatory to this agreement, the United States is pledged to use international standards as the basis for technical regulations when possible.59 Others urged the Commission to address the development of ASTM symbols without indicating how it should do so.60 Another explained that it would be very helpful if the care instructions on foreign and domestic labels were in agreement or, at a minimum, contained ASTM symbols.61

54Two commenters stated that they do not like the use of symbols. Charles (3) and Vlasits (6). Other comments urged the Commission to require care symbols on all textile products. Fox (107) and Old Town Dry Cleaners (56).

55Textile Industry Affairs (112).

56 Id.

57ASTM (111); Evans (67); and The Children's Place (90). Another comment argued that the Rule should keep pace with developments in the ASTM system, and that the biggest challenge with symbols is educating the consumer. NCA and DLI (124). It advised that care symbols are not prevalent in the United States.Id.

58ASTM (111).

59 Id.

60Preece (54) and Yazdani (78).

61Professional Leather Cleaners Association (109).

A number of comments expressed support for harmonizing the ASTM symbols allowed under the Rule with those used internationally.62 One comment favoring harmonization concluded that the Rule prevents a global ISO Standard and that ISO symbols should supplant ASTMsymbols.63 It explained that the ASTM and the ISO symbols are similar but not the same and that ISO symbols are used in every country except South Korea, Japan, and the United States (and that Japan is working on harmonizing ISO and the JIC standards that apply in Japan).64 Another favored one set of worldwide symbols and explained that the ISO recommends a complete set of care symbols, including washing, bleaching, ironing, drying, and professional care.65 It added that these symbols are consistent with those developed by ASTM.66 Some comments argued that harmonizing symbols would also address problems stemming from label disclosures in multiple languages.67 One of these comments favored harmonization but argued that, as an alternative, the Rule should allow manufacturers to use either ASTM or ISO symbols in the United States, to relieve some of the burden and increase the accessibility of global trade.68 It stated that differences among the symbol systems cause confusion and limit the opportunities for trade growth.69 Another comment proposed that the Rule provide for or recognize agreements between the United States and other countries to accept international and national care label symbol systems currently in use in the global marketplace.70

62AHAM (114); American Apparel & Footwear Association (113); Draper (100); GINETEX (83); Johnson (50); O'Connor (20); Textile Industry Affairs (112); and The Clorox Company (122).

63GINETEX (83).

64 Id.

65Riggs (53).

66 Id.

67American Apparel & Footwear Association (113) and The Children's Place (90).

68American Apparel & Footwear Association (113).

69 Id.

70The Children's Place (90).

Still others favored acceptance of ISO or internationally-accepted symbols without addressing the ASTM symbols.71 Three comments urged the Commission to adopt or accept the ISO standard.72 One supported adding to the symbols in cases where there are clear testing protocols to verify the safety of a care process.73 It explained that, in the case of wetcleaning, there appears to be expert consensus that a new test does just that.74

71Cote (58); Horrigan (17); Thorsteinson (45); and Yazdani (78).

72UCLA Sustainable Technology & Policy Program (84); White (15); and GINETEX (83). As noted above, GINETEX argued that the ISO symbols should supplant the ASTM symbols.

73Textile Industry Affairs (112).

74 Id.

GreenEarth Cleaning (“GreenEarth”) advocated a different approach to disclosing professional cleaning instructions. It argued that the ASTM and ISO professional cleaning symbols are inadequate because they are based on particular solvents rather than solvent characteristics.75 It explained that the increasing number of solvents and advances in technology call for an approach addressing solvent aggressiveness (cleaning method) and mechanical action (cycle); it proposed that a Kauri-Butanol Value (“KBV”) of 35 or less be designated as “gentle” and that a “fragile” or “very fragile” instruction be provided for items needing minimized mechanical action.76 It stated that the KBV is widely recognized in the textile care industry as having the greatest influence on the processing of textiles.77 This comment further argued that there is a direct correlation between propensity for garment damage and a higher solvent KBV.78 GreenEarth proposed specific cleaning method and cycle symbols to replace the current ASTM and ISO symbols and urged the Commission to make every effort to implement simple, consistent international symbols that can be universally interpreted to ensure the best care for garments.79 No other comment favored this proposal.

75GreenEarth Cleaning (98) at 2.

76 Id.at 2-3.

77 Id.at 2.

78 Id.at 4.

79 Id.at 2-3.

In addition to proposing new symbols, GreenEarth advocated parallel changes to the “overarching nomenclature and the guiding principle” behind the Rule, to improve the reliability and understandability of care labels.80 Specifically, it proposed replacing the instructions “dry clean,” “do not dry clean,” “wetclean,” and “do not wetclean” with simplified categories of “cleaning method” and “cycle.” It also proposed that “cleaning method” would encompass all types of professional cleaning, including wetcleaning, and “cycle” would address the level of mechanical action.81 As with its proposed symbols, GreenEarth would classify cleaning methods based on solvent aggressiveness rather than solvent type.82 For the “cycle” category, GreenEarth would replace “mild” and “very mild” with “fragile” and “very fragile.”83

80 Id.at 2.

81 Id.

82 Id.

83 Id.at 3.

Two comments addressed the presentation of symbols. One argued that the current system works well, but that some uniformity regarding location, size, composition, and font size would greatly help the industry.84 Another comment proposed attaching the international care label symbols to the garments in a small, removable brochure or paper, or in an online link address for such information.85

84Raggi (30).

85Santana (12).

C. The Rule's Reasonable Basis Provisions

Four comments argued that the Commission should clarify or strengthen the Rule's provision requiring manufacturers to have a reasonable basis for care instructions. One urged the Commission to strengthen the reasonable basis requirements and hold manufacturers accountable to individual consumers for inappropriate care instructions.86 Two argued that the Commission should clarify the reasonable basis provisions because some non-compliant parties appear to be misinformed or to misunderstand the requirement.87 They suggested that the Commission request fresh data from manufacturers regarding their reasonable basis for their current care instructions.88 One of them argued that, given standardized testing (e.g.,ASTM methodology) for colorfastness and garment integrity (e.g.,tensile strength), the Commission should require actual data to support care instructions.89 Another comment favored requiring manufacturers to test products with all available processes, including wetcleaning.90

86NCA and DLI (124).

87Textile Industry Affairs (112) and The Clorox Company (122). They stated that disclosing an instruction based on “unreasonable” and “possible” fabric impact is not an acceptable instruction or warning.

88 Id.

89The Clorox Company (122).

90Behzadi (69).

D. Rule Definitions and Appendix

Several comments urged the Commission to update the Rule's definition of “dryclean,” as well as the Appendix. One comment urged the Commission to adopt a broader definition of “dryclean.”91 It explained that, 25 years ago, only two solvents were widely used—perc and petroleum.92 It added that now there are many solvents, including high flash hydrocarbons, silicones, glycol ethers, carbon dioxide, aldehydes, and wetcleaning.93 It also reported that: fluorocarbon solvent, one of the solvents listed in the definition, is no longer used; new hydrocarbon drying parameters are different from those of early petroleum solvents; and not all solvents are organically based.94

91NCA and DLI (124).

92 Id.

93 Id.

94 Id.

Four comments from cleaners similarly argued that the current definition of drycleaning is very limiting.95 The first reported that it adopted a new solvent, but has concerns because labels do not provide the information needed.96 The second reported that it hesitated to adopt a new solvent because it is not recognized by the Rule.97 The third reported that it wanted to use a new solvent, which involves purchasing a costly new machine, but hesitated because the solvent or process is not recognized by the Rule.98 The comment argued that the Rule should not curtail technological advancement.99 The fourth urged the Commission to expand Rule to address other solvents, such as SolvonK4 by Kreussler.100

95Bromagen (91); Hagearty (61); Preece (54); and Yazdani (78).

96Bromagen (91).

97Hagearty (61).

98Preece (54).

99 Id.

100Brunette (115).

Two comments urged the Commission to revise Appendix A. One advised that Appendix A of the Rule diverges from ASTM D5489, although it did not identify how or explain why amendments are warranted.101 Another urged the Commission to suggest that all leather goods have a more specific care label, such as “Leather Clean and Refinish by Professional Leather Cleaner Only,” and to expand the definition in Appendix A.8 to read “Leather Clean and Refinish by Professional Leather Cleaner Only.”102

101ASTM (111).

102Professional Leather Cleaners Association (109).

E. Instruction on All Appropriate Methods of Care

Several comments from the cleaning industry urged the Commission to amend the Rule to require manufacturers to include instructions on all appropriate methods of care.103 As one comment explained, this would empower consumers to decide whether they want to care for the garment at home or use a professional cleaner.104 It added that, by listing all methods of care, the label would eliminate guesswork regarding whether a care method is not listed because it will cause damage.105 Others explained that such a label would enable the cleaner to select the best cleaning method based on the type of soils on the garment or the customer's requests.106

103 E.g.,Bromagen (91); Draper (100); Edwards (97); Evans (67); Hagearty (61); Kudler (72); Maisel (34); McKay (104); NCA and DLI (124); Overmoe (66); Preece (54); Tebbs (47); Widmar (48); and Yazdani (78).

104NCA and DLI (124).

105 Id.

106Overmoe (66) and Preece (54).

F. Additional Issues

Some comments proposed amending the Rule to require additional disclosures, disallow certain care instructions currently allowed by the Rule, address the format or composition of labels, expand the scope of the Rule, or impose additional requirements. Additionally, several comments addressed the use of multiple languages on care labels.

Five comments urged the Commission to require disclosure of fiber, fabric, or component content.107 One of them also advocated requiring disclosure of the content of all fabrics, linings, and trims, including applied water repellant coatings or sizing that may be removed during processing.108

107Chambers (92); Hiebert (64); Professional Leather Cleaners Association (109); Santana (12); and Wilson (32).

108Hiebert (64).

Other comments urged the Commission to require more detailed care instructions or disclosure of additional information related to care.109 For example, one comment urged the Commission to address the instruction “exclusive of trim” where the trim is not removable.110 Another urged the Commission to require disclosure of the type of dye method used to lessen the likelihood of damaged garments.111 Another stated that the Rule should require more details, including how and which drycleaning fluid can, or cannot, be used for the garment.112 Yet another argued that any care that the manufacturer knows could harm the garment should be specifically stated as a “Do Not” warning.113

109One comment advocated guidelines for designating specific solvent characteristics, such as KB value, polarity, and water solubility, on pre-existing labels. Cote (58).

110Chelsky (38).

111King (19).

112Momin (51).

113NCA and DLI (124).

One comment proposed that the Rule provide that the care instruction indicate the maximum treatment that can be applied to the item.114 The comment explained that the Rule allows a manufacturer to provide an instruction, such as “dry flat” even if a more severe method, such as “tumble dry,” will not harm the garment. Under the ISO standard the care instruction provided is the most severe method that can be used without damaging the article.115 Another comment argued that the Rule should require that jobbers who add trimming, ornaments or feathers, etc., to an item must change or add additional labels and add the jobbers' names and contact info.116 Another comment argued, among other things, that labels should disclose a serial number and an address for a Web site providing several additional categories of information and countries of manufacture.117

114GINETEX (83).

115 Id.

116Zeidel (29).

117Winn (40).

Moreover, one comment argued that care tags could be replaced or made much smaller and simpler with the use of a unique identifier for every garment, such as a barcode, QR code, or an RFID chip.118 It explained that the code would include a manufacturer ID, product ID, and serial number, and that the manufacturer would input this information into a centralized database that could be accessed by consumers, retailers, drycleaners, etc.119

118Levy (99).

119 Id.

Another comment addressed disclosure of an item's point of origin. It urged the Commission to require disclosure of the state for items allowed a “made in the United States” label.120

120Fisher (24).

Other comments argued that the Commission should disallow certain care instructions that they view as providing little, if any, benefit to consumers, or to otherwise limit care instructions. One comment argued that all garments should be serviceable, and opposed “Do not wash. Do not dryclean” labels.121 One stated that care methods should be dryclean only, clean by any method, and cannot be cleaned.122 Another stated that too many labels state “remove trim before cleaning” where removing the trim results in taking apart the garment.123 One stated that labels that specify “Spot Clean” should be disallowed.124

121Brunette (115).

122Enderlin (63).

123O'Connor (20).

124Shaw (33).

Two comments addressed the format or composition of the labels required by the Rule. One argued that labels should be a standard size, printed on white material only, using stable black ink, non-soluble in water and drycleaning solvents.125 The other argued that care labels need to be securely attached to the garment, and not by a few stitches, to avoid causing holes in the garments after a few cleanings.126

125Horrigan (17).

126Maknojia (87).

Two comments addressed the scope of the Rule. One argued that the Ruleshould continue to exempt rental garments, such as corporate uniforms, because many of them require professional care for health reasons.127 The other proposed requiring care labels for household items such as comforters, drapes, etc.128

127American Apparel & Footwear Association (113).

128Kudler (72).

Four comments favored imposing additional obligations under the Rule other than labeling. One urged the establishment of an electronic database for reporting insufficient or incorrect labeling so consumers can research problems.129 Another urged the Commission to add provisions holding manufacturers accountable to individual consumers for inappropriate care instructions.130 A third advocated providing that a consumer can return a failed garment to the place of purchase for a refund, that the place of purchase must keep a record of the garment, and that the point of sale vendor will be able to get refunds from its vendor.131 A fourth urged the creation of guidelines for specific solvent characteristics, such as KB value, polarity, and water solubility, to allow for easy testing on the manufacturing side and to encourage eco-friendly alternatives on the care side.132 It added that solvent developers could provide MSDS sheets (material safety data sheets) and publicly-available materials for ease of use by manufacturers, dry-cleaners and consumers.133

129Bosshard (13).

130NCA and DLI (124).

131Sabo (23).

132White (15).

133 Id.

Finally, several comments argued that the Rule should not require multiple language disclosures.134 One stated that labels should be only in English, and another stated that English is the only language needed on labels.135 One added that English is a must but other languages can be an option.136 Another argued that labels for clothes to be purchased in the United States should be in English, and for clothes available for purchase in multiple countries, the label should be in multiple languages.137 Yet another stated that labels should be in English and that symbols should eliminate the need for additional languages.138 Another argued that the label should be in English with internationally-accepted symbols and that those cleaners who do not speak or read English well should contact their own association for a translation of the international symbols.139 None of the comments proposed amending the Rule to address the format for presenting care instructions in more than one language, other than to note that using symbols would address problems stemming from disclosures in multiple languages.140

134One commenter, a consumer who does not indicate any affiliation with an organization, stated that she does not like having so many language translations. Charles (3).

135Branfuhr (42) and Childers (49).

136Maknojia (87).

137Vlasits (6).

138Hurley (60).

139Thorsteinson (45).

140American Apparel & Footwear Association (113) and Hurley (60).

III. The Commission Retains the Rule

The record shows wide support for the Rule from all the major industries affected by its provisions as well as from consumers. Among other things, comments supporting the Rule explained that it benefits consumers, manufacturers, and businesses in general and provides valuable guidance on care to consumers and the fabricare industry.

Two comments opposing the Rule, one filed by GINETEX and the other by a retailer, failed to provide any tangible evidence to support their assertions.141 There is no evidence in the record showing that a voluntary scheme would work better than the Rule, that the ASTM care symbols permitted by the Rule create an unnecessary obstacle to international trade, or that the time and effort spent on the labels required by the Rule do not serve the goal of educating consumers about how to care for their garments.

141 Seefootnote 20 for more details about these comments.

In light of the many stakeholder comments expressing support for the Rule, the Commission concludes that a continuing need exists for the Rule and that the Rule imposes reasonable costs on the industry. The Commission therefore concludes that the weight of the record evidence clearly supports retention of the Rule.

IV. Proposed Amendments

Many of the comments supporting the Rule also advocated various amendments. Accordingly, based on the comments and the evidence discussed herein, the Commission proposes to amend the Rule in the following four ways.142 First, the Commission proposes to permit manufacturers and importers to provide a care instruction for professional wetcleaning on labels if the garment can be professionally wetcleaned. Second, the Commission proposes to permit manufacturers and importers to use the symbol system set forth in either ASTM Standard D5489-07, “Standard Guide for Care Symbols for Care Instructions on Textile Products,” or ISO 3758:2005(E), “Textiles C Care labelling code using symbols.” Third, the Commission proposes to clarify what constitutes a reasonable basis for care instructions. Finally, the Commission proposes to update the definition of “dryclean” to reflect current practices and technology.143

142The Commission can issue a NPRM under the FTC Act if it has “reason to believe that the unfair or deceptive acts or practices which are the subject of the proposed rulemaking are prevalent.” 15 U.S.C. 57a(b)(3). The Commission can find “unfair or deceptive acts or practices are prevalent” where: “(A) it has issued cease and desist orders regarding such acts or practices, or (B) any other information available to the Commission indicates a widespread pattern of unfair or deceptive acts or practices.”Id.at 57a(b)(3)(A)-(B). The Commission has “wide latitude” in fashioning a remedy and need only show a “reasonable relationship” between the unfair or deceptive act or practice and the remedy.American Fin. Servs. Ass'nv.FTC,767 F.2d 957, 988 (DC Cir. 1985) (quotingJacob Siegel Co.v.FTC,327 U.S. 608, 612-13 (1946)).

143The Commission also proposes to delete the words “As Amended” from the Rule's title. These words do not serve any purpose, and none of the other titles of Commission rules that have been amended include these words.

A. Professional Wetcleaning

As noted above, in 2000, the Commission declined to amend the Rule to permit a “Professionally Wetclean” instruction on labels. The Commission stated that it would consider permitting such an instruction if a more specific definition and/or test procedure were developed that provided manufacturers with a reasonable basis for a wetcleaning instruction.144 The Commission explained at the time that it was premature to permit such an instruction due to the absence of a suitable definition and appropriate test method.

144 Federal Trade Commission: Trade Regulation Rule on Care Labeling of Textile Wearing Apparel and Certain Piece Goods, Final Amended Rule,65 FR 47261, 47273 (Aug. 2, 2000).

The record now shows that these conditions have been met. ISO has developed ISO 3175-4:2003, “Textiles—Professional care, drycleaning and wetcleaning of fabrics and garments—Part 4: Procedure for testing performance when cleaning and finishing using simulated wetcleaning.” This standard includes a definition of wetcleaning and test procedures for determining whether apparel can be wetcleaned professionally. Several comments favoring a wetcleaning instruction cited this standard approvingly.145 None of the commentsargued that the ISO standard is inadequate.146

145UCLA Sustainable Technology & Policy Program (84); Toxic Use Reduction Institute (86); and Riggs (53).

146The standard ISO 3758:2005(E), “Textiles—Care labelling code using symbols” also defines wetcleaning.

As described in Section II.A, the record shows widespread support for amending the Rule to include professional wetcleaning. Many comments explained the economic, environmental, and health benefits of wetcleaning. They also noted the increasing industry acceptance and use of wetcleaning, the inclusion of wetcleaning symbols in both the ASTM and ISO care symbol systems, and the risk that failing to allow an instruction could place wetcleaners at a disadvantage, thereby discouraging its use despite its advantages. The increasing industry acceptance and use of wetcleaning and the inclusion of wetcleaning symbols in both the ASTM and ISO systems establish the prevalence of wetcleaning. Only three comments expressed reservations, and none of them provided evidence that amending the Rule would harm consumers or that the cost of doing so would exceed the benefits.

While the record supports permitting a professional wetcleaning instruction, it does not warrant requiring such an instruction. None of the comments provided evidence that the absence of a wetcleaning instruction for products that can be wetcleaned would result in deception or unfairness under the FTC Act. Nor did they provide evidence that the benefits of requiring a wetcleaning instruction would exceed the costs such a requirement would impose on manufacturers and importers.147 Thus, the Commission declines to prop